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UN hits N. Korea with new sanctions amid attack threat
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) March 7, 2013

US says N. Korea sanctions will 'bite hard'
United Nations (AFP) March 7, 2013 - New nuclear sanctions against North Korea agreed Thursday by the UN Security Council will "bite hard," the United States said, but China called for new efforts to get the North back to talks.

The United States and its allies angrily renewed condemnation of the North's February 12 nuclear test and its threat on Thursday to stage a "pre-emptive" nuclear strike. South Korea's UN envoy warned that the rival state could be on the path to "self-destruction".

"Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard," US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after the vote.

"They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community," she added.

The sanctions step up financial restriction, add new names to a UN blacklist, tighten rules for inspections of North Korean cargo and specifically ban exports of luxury cars, yachts and jewelry to Pyongyang.

The North has responded by declaring it will withdraw from an armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War and that it could launch "a pre-emptive nuclear attack."

"North Korea will achieve nothing by continued threats and provocations. These will only further isolate the country and its people," said Rice.

The United States and China negotiated the tougher sanctions, but China -- though it voted for Resolution 2094 -- was not among the nations that officially sponsored it.

Beijing has traditionally sought to shield its neighbor from tough international action.

But China's UN envoy Li Baodong said "the resolution just adopted by the Security Council is a reflection of the view and determination of the international community against the nuclear program."

"We want to see full implementation of the resolution," Li told reporters.

But he added that "the top priority now is to defuse the tension, bring down the heat, focus on the diplomatic track."

The resolution stressed the importance of six-nation nuclear talks among the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and the North which have been moribund since 2009.

"We encourage all the stakeholders: talk with each other," said Li.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he "highly rates the resolution" adopted by the council.

"We strongly call on North Korea never to engage in an act of provocation," Abe said in a statement.

South Korea is a current member of the Security Council and its envoy Kim Sook called the North's new threats "deplorable".

"Each violation will be met by stronger responses and measures," Kim told reporters as he welcomed the resolution.

"North Korea must wake up from its delusion of becoming a nuclear weapons state and make the right choice," said Kim, declaring that his country's arch-rival was now at a "crossroads".

"It can either choose the right path toward a bright future and prosperity, or it can take the bad road toward further and deeper isolation and eventual self-destruction," he said.

Observers have expressed doubts that the sanctions will change North Korea's behavior.

"The new sanctions are a clear sign that China's impatience with North Korea is growing, but they do not move us any closer to a real solution," said Suzanne DiMaggio, vice-president of the Asia Society, a US policy forum.

"What's needed is direct dialogue between Beijing, Washington, and Seoul with Pyongyang," she added.

"The ratcheting up of hostile rhetoric toward the US on Pyongyang's part should move the Chinese to work harder to defuse the situation. A more robust US military presence in Northeast Asia that serves to strengthen capabilities of American allies is the last thing Beijing wants right now," said DiMaggio.

The UN Security Council on Thursday slammed tough new sanctions on North Korea amid escalating tensions as the isolated regime threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States.

Washington said it was "fully capable" of defending itself against any North Korean attack as international powers rallied behind the fourth round of UN punishment of Pyongyang.

After an accord between US and Chinese negotiators, the 15-member Security Council unanimously added new names to the UN sanctions blacklist and tightened restrictions on North Korea's financial dealings, notably its suspect "bulk cash" transfers.

Ahead of the meeting, North Korea bitterly condemned South Korean-US military exercises and said its army would "exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors."

North Korea now faces one of the toughest UN sanctions regimes ever imposed after nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and on February 12, as well as a long-range rocket launch in December.

The Security Council's Resolution 2094 threatened "further significant measures" if the North stages a new nuclear test or rocket launch.

The new sanctions will "bite hard," said US ambassador Susan Rice. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."

China wants "full implementation" of the resolution, said its UN envoy Li Baodong, while stressing that efforts must be made to bring North Korea back to negotiations and to defuse tensions.

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin also called for "cool heads" to bring North Korea back to six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said the resolution sent an "unequivocal message" to North Korea that "the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

The resolution expressed "gravest concern" over the February 12 test and adds three new individuals, a government science academy and trading company to the UN blacklist for a travel ban and assets freeze.

The resolution also called for "enhanced vigilance" over North Korean diplomats. US officials suspect the North's diplomats have been carrying suitcases of cash to get around financial sanctions.

It said a ban on financial transactions linked to the North's weapons programs must include "bulk cash" transfers.

Earlier resolutions gave states the right to inspect cargo suspected to contain weapons material. Those inspections will become mandatory.

The Security Council had also banned exports of luxury goods but this resolution for the first time specifically named jewelry, yachts, and luxury and racing cars as items that must be banned.

"North Korea's ruling elite -- who have been living large while impoverishing their people -- will pay a direct price for this nuclear test," said Rice.

The North's foreign ministry said that adoption of the resolution would fast-track Pyongyang's plans to carry out promised "powerful" countermeasures.

It blasted the United States and South Korea over joint military exercises which have just started in the South.

The North said earlier that it would withdraw on Monday from the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

A foreign ministry spokesman warned that a second Korean war was "unavoidable", with Washington and Seoul refusing to cancel their military exercise.

"Now that the US is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, (our) revolutionary armed forces... will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

"Let's be clear: We are fully capable of dealing with that threat," said White House spokesman Jay Carney in response.

US Senator Bob Menendez told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it would be "suicide" for the North to stage such an attack.

In the past, the North has threatened attacks on US forces in South Korea and also claims to possess long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

North Korean state television showed a massive military and civilian rally held Thursday in Pyongyang's giant Kim Il-Sung square.

The rally was addressed by senior military and party officials who denounced the United States and warned that Washington would reap the consequences of its "aggression".


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US 'fully capable' of defending against N. Korea threat
Washington (AFP) March 7, 2013
The United States said Thursday it was "fully capable" of defending itself and its allies against any North Korean missile strike, after Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack. The US military could deal with any such attack, US officials said, repeating earlier warnings that North Korea would gain nothing by provocations, while stressing they took its threats seriously. "I can ... read more

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